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When Social Media Meets TV, Are the Results Worth Watching?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the officer-ben-sherman-hadn't-always-worn-a-tutu dept.

Social Networks 106

blackbearnh writes "Forums and chat groups are letting fans organize and discuss their favorite shows with increasing ease, but what happens when the writers and producers of TV shows start paying attention? An article in today's Christian Science Monitor takes a look at how the production staff of recent shows has interacted with their fan base, and how the fans are having an increasing influence on not only the popularity, but also the plot and characters."

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Snakes on a Plane (1)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439675)

Wasn't that a proof of concept?

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439737)

C*O*P*S was social media too

Re:Snakes on a Plane (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442069)

C*O*P*S was social media too

What?

There's a social site specializing in mullets in wife-beater t-shirts out there that try to influence the show COPS?

Here I was, thinking they were just unwitting participants/stars in the show...

Re:Snakes on a Plane (3, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439887)

It doesn't have to be so negative as that, though.

For instance, I've wondered for the last 10 years or so what the fuck the people that cancelled Firefly were thinking. Ditto with the show Jericho [wikipedia.org] from a few years ago. Both shows had massive outpourings of fan support but got cancelled anyway (Firefly was sabotaged from the outset, in my opinion).

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone that didn't wonder what the hell goes on in these meetings where TV and Movie execs come up with their shit. More and more it seems like the good shows get axed, the good movie concepts end up in development hell, and only the crap ends up on both the Big Screen and the small one. Probably why I barely watch TV these days and haven't been to a movie in years...

Re:Snakes on a Plane (5, Insightful)

yotto (590067) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439979)

I don't wonder at all.

You are being yelled at to make money for your network, and you have two options on how to do it. You can pay a half dozen juggalos (or "real" housewives") a couple million dollars a year to act like idiots and make hundreds of millions profit. Or, you can spend hundreds of millions on a high-tech sci-fi scripted TV show that doesn't even break even.

If you don't make money for the network. You get fired.

What do you do?

Re:Snakes on a Plane (2)

afeeney (719690) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441177)

You are being yelled at to make money for your network, and you have two options on how to do it. You can pay a half dozen juggalos (or "real" housewives") a couple million dollars a year to act like idiots and make hundreds of millions profit. Or, you can spend hundreds of millions on a high-tech sci-fi scripted TV show that doesn't even break even. If you don't make money for the network. You get fired.

Scripted shows, especially ones targeted to children or sci-fi ones, can rake in hundreds of millions with related product sales. Toys, action figures, books/comics, supplemental media like iTunes songs, etc.. Once you cultivate a fanbase, merchandising is the big moneymaker that can go on and on and pay long-term dividends, long after a "90 percent real, the rest is plastic" Housewife has become a trivia question. However, it's asking the networks to gamble on being able to create a fanbase and it requires longer-term thinking. I'd like to see networks become much more experimental with cheap pilots and lesser-known actors and writers, even releasing just on YouTube, using all of the possible social media metrics beyond just Nielsen numbers and demographics (e.g. what is the critical number of rabid, moderate, and tepid fans and how do you define each of these; what's the payoff point for developing merchandise; how much will fans pay for supplemental media like special podcasts), and developing a much stronger and more varied innovation strategy based on low-cost experiments and a solid plan for adding or withdrawing resources at just the right timing point.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441507)

Scripted shows, especially ones targeted to children or sci-fi ones, can rake in hundreds of millions with related product sales.

And I've seen "Snooki" t-shirts. It might not be action figures but there IS reality show merch.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442101)

And I've seen "Snooki" t-shirts.

Who?

Re:Snakes on a Plane (3, Funny)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442767)

Your lack of knowledge is for the best. I still rue the day someone told me about Jersey Shore.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442011)

You mean like a tie in film?

Serenity cost 40 million to make and raked in 38 million.

Clearly the fans were vocal, but not all there.

At some point, the ROI delta between a show like Firefly and say, American Idol, to choose a random popular Fox show, is just so great that it doesn't become worth producing the show to begin with.

Plus Firefly sucked. Should've not even been green lit. I hope though that the Avengers fares better for ol' Joss than Serenity did.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

afeeney (719690) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443959)

No, for supplemental media I meant more things like soundtracks and song downloads, mini-episodes for purchase, etc., things that aren't full-scale productions. Nurturing a fanbase also encourages the fans actually to buy the materials, especially because it's immediately available for download from the time of creation.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439989)

For instance, I've wondered for the last 10 years or so what the fuck the people that cancelled Firefly were thinking. Ditto with the show Jericho

I'm pretty sure they were thinking that they weren't a charity and thus did not have much interest in funding shows that were losing money. Just because a fanbase is extremely vocal doesn't make it large. This I think is the inherent problem with writers/directors/developers paying too much attention to social media and fan forums. The fact is, the few hundred or thousand people who post endlessly on forums simply are not a representative group of the several million people who watch the show or movie or play the game. Instead, they all represent the same hardcore group of fans, who's interests and desires likely do not reflect the interests or desires of the overall community. But, when the media covers a game/show/movie, they turn to the forums and act like it represents the community, which in turn puts pressure on the studio to put pressure on the creator to cow to the demands, regardless of how detrimental they are to the game/show/movie. It's especially tough with TV shows, since ultimately the viewer is watching an incomplete work. Viewers may think they disagree with a particular character, plot line or scene, but it's possible it's setting up for something they actually would like. But you get a meddling studio telling the writers that the fans hate X and it needs to be changed and you never get to the payoff. Worse, this kind of crap tends to lead to plot holes and dangling plot lines, and if it goes to far the whole show falls apart.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440045)

Maybe, just maybe, Firefly would've done better if it wasn't aired out of order and shuffled between time slots...

Oh, and considering the sales of the DVDs (both Serenity and the series) it's pretty obvious it was financially viable, it was just mismanaged.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (3, Interesting)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440271)

Maybe, but it's certainly not clear.

Serenity, for example, did not even break even based on worldwide box office receipts. (It was very, very close -- but still under.) It went into the black with the DVD sales, but that is still a lackluster performance.

Assuming that the TV series performed similarly--hovering around the break even mark--it's a pretty easy decision to cancel it. Ordinarily I am fine with things breaking even: For a business, as an example, breaking even means you paid all your vendors, all your employees and all your expenses; it's dangerous territory in that there is no room for expansion or regression, but a lot of good can be done by "only" breaking even.

But it's not quite the same with a TV show, because it's not just about the show itself. Rather, one has to factor in the opportunity cost of taking up the extremely finite set of (valuable) time slots that the show takes. Making $10MM on a show sounds good unless you're told you could be making $30MM by airing some other show instead.

Would it have done better? Yes. Would it have done better enough to avoid cancellation? It's an open question, certainly not "pretty obvious" one way or another. $39MM at the box office is a poor showing.

Before anybody has a fit, I actually liked Firefly and Serenity, I simply realize that my liking something doesn't mean large numbers of other people like it. In my fact liking a show typically serves as a death knell. (Sorry folks.)

Re:Snakes on a Plane (3, Funny)

elgeeko.com (2472782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440657)

" In my fact liking a show typically serves as a death knell."
Please tell me you like American Idol.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39441163)

Don't worry, Idol's jumped the shark.

My wife managed to suck me in last year, but despite her best efforts this year, it just isn't interesting. Well, actually, Phil Philip's performance last night was actually pretty good . . . very non-pop, I liked it. Would have been better if he'd used an electric guitar.

And I have to say, last night the girl judge's lipstick had a certain je ne sais quoi. It was red and very sparkly.

Last year had Halley Reinhart. I thought she was very enjoyable. Check out her performances of House of the Rising Sun and Rolling In the Deep on youtube.

But don't worry. It's on a death spiral. So is Survivor. It will take these giants awhile to fall, but fall they will. They both changed television, but they'll eventually go the way of Gunsmoke. And they won't last as long, either.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440311)

Maybe, just maybe, Firefly would've done better if it wasn't aired out of order and shuffled between time slots...

Oh, and considering the sales of the DVDs (both Serenity and the series) it's pretty obvious it was financially viable, it was just mismanaged.

Exactly. Firefly, as a franchise, could have competed with Star Trek and Star Wars in my opinion, but we'll never know, because they sabotaged it from the get-go. People that have watched the show in the order it was supposed to be seen, and not the cluster-fuck that they aired, generally have much more positive reactions to the show in my experiences.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (4, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440375)

Actually, now that I think about it, Star Trek almost suffered the same fate. They tried to cancel that show after every season, it wasn't the moneymaker that The Powers That Be wanted, and look at the franchise today. Four subsequent TV series, Eleven Feature Films (with a twelfth on the way), countless merchandise...it's a billion dollar franchise today.

I truly believe if they would have stuck with the show it would have been just as successful, but everything's instant gratification these days. If a show doesn't capture enormous ratings and millions of dollars in ad revenue from the start, it's doomed. They gave Firefly, what, 3 whole months? Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season was a flaming pile of shit and that show lasted 7 fucking years and spawned four feature films...I wonder how their early ratings compared to Firefly's?

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442929)

Actually, now that I think about it, Star Trek almost suffered the same fate. They tried to cancel that show after every season, it wasn't the moneymaker that The Powers That Be wanted, and look at the franchise today.

Then again, TPTB tried to cancel Harlan Ellison... er... Cordwainer Bird's The Starlost [io9.com] as well.

Some times that's a good thing.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

Envy Life (993972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442169)

Time slots do make or break shows. I've seen plenty of shows who did fantastic in their time slot, then moved to a different slot to subsequently get the ax due to reduced viewership. The issue is lessened a bit by the advent of DVRs, but there's still a very high live viewing audience.

Maybe, just maybe, Firefly would've done better if it wasn't aired out of order and shuffled between time slots...

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441557)

The "charity" principle flatly contradicts the facts. There are shows in various genres that were clear failures at the same point in their production as Firefly. Firefly was simply never given a chance and was likely killed by internal politics that have nothing to do with the "charity principle".

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

marsu_k (701360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440089)

I'm not surprised at all that Jericho got canceled. The show could have been great, but quickly turned into a post-apocalyptic O.C. Shame really, the premise had some potential.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (2)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443311)

I'm not surprised at all that Jericho got canceled. The show could have been great, but quickly turned into a post-apocalyptic O.C. Shame really, the premise had some potential.

You (and everyone) gave up too soon. It went through a soapy stage after the great opening, but it pulled back into some hard core action in the latter half of the season, and the few that watched season 2 saw it reach greatness.

There is no room for a misstep, especially with scifi on TV. Lose momentum and you're dead. same thing happened with Sarah Connor. A patch of slow, introspective episodes and it was on the chopping block.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39443767)

I disagree about giving up on Jericho too soon. I did watch the full first season and the mini-second season. I do agree that there was a bit off a lull in the first but that the wrap up was excellent. The second season did what I think it was supposed to do, wrap up the show and finish it off.

IMO, that a show like this is great for a small quick glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world, but there are so many variables and possabilites, that once suggested the idea, this story is better left for the imagination to play out.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440753)

Firefly
Jericho
Flashforward
SG:U (the best of the stargates no less)
Caprica

The problems with these shows are that they target a small audience but have a big budget.

Reality TV costs very very little, and sadly, appeals to a much wider audience.

Which is why you have stations like HBO. HBO is a premium service, but you get what you pay for, a lot of quality shows. And now that HBO has ventured into fantasy with Game of Thrones, one could only hope that HBO will do something science-fiction. If anything, HBO is the perfect candidate to create (they don't actually create anything, but you know what I mean), once and for all, a proper, accurate, video production of Dune. Dune has everything Game of Thrones has: weird metaphysical magic, intense and deep politics, a little bit of incest, it's perfect!

And if not Dune, then something else. I'd have faith in a live action version of Ghost in the Shell if it was produced by a company that HBO hires.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441067)

A faithful adaptation of Dune would be amazing, although I admit I've only read the first few Dune novels, so I don't know how well the later novels would translate.

I really wish HBO would adapt either Stephen King's The Stand or The Gunslinger series to an ongoing series. Both could do well in my opinion. I know that The Gunslinger was in the works as a series of films, but that has been in an out of production so many times I have no ckue as to it's current status.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441665)

They did make a relatively faithful mini-series adaptation of the first two novels, but the acting was astonishingly bad. Lynch's film, for all the bizarre proprieties it took with the story, at least had the atmosphere of the novel down pat.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (2)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444539)

the mini series was true to the story line
the lynch film was true to the feeling

I did recently find an uncut version of the lynch film, and it has a lot more of the book in it.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442869)

SG:U (the best of the stargates no less)

I just have to say it. Stargate Universe was, without a doubt, the worst of all the Stargate series. The only reason I watched the show while it aired was because it was Startgate and I was having Stargate withdrawal. Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis were awesome.

The problems with these shows are that they target a small audience but have a big budget.

That is probably true; however, I wish the TV executives would simply lower the budget rather cancel the show. As TV continues to transition more and more to the internet, I am hoping there will be less reason to cancel good shows that have small audiences since the producers will no longer have to sacrifice time-slots since it would be internet-based TV.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440871)

They were probably cancelled because they weren't that good.

Re:Snakes on a Plane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39441325)

"For instance, I've wondered for the last 10 years or so what the fuck the people that cancelled Firefly were thinking. "

Easy. Their customers (advertisers) didn't like it. The bozos watching it are of no concern.

Bad idea (5, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439681)

A lot of producers and show-runners will avoid fan boards and social media sites for their shows not because they don't value the fans, but because of legal issues. If some fan posts a story idea and a similar story shows up later on the show (whether by coincidence or not) without crediting the fan, you're looking at a lawsuit. Most such "They took yur ideas!" suits are laughable and end up going nowhere (unless you're Harlan Ellison, who seemed to make a career out of claiming everyone stole everything from him). But if the plaintiff can show that show execs and writers were active participants in the same fan board where he posted the idea, you've got a real problem.

I know this may go against the grain but, with a few exceptions, I really do think it's best to keep the fans and show-runners in their own separate cages, for the most part. A lot of fans will feel weird posting honestly if they know the people they're criticizing are right there. And show execs are setting themselves up for legal and PR headaches if they start getting accused of stealing story ideas from the fans.

Re:Bad idea (2)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439723)

Legal issues aside, you can't please everyone.

And unfortunately, the ones who are displeased, while usually a minority, end up being the loudest bunch.

Good idea (1)

crow (16139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439983)

Just run a separate forum that requires a login and terms of service that give the producers the rights to any ideas you post.

Re:Good idea (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440165)

Great Idea!

How can I do that one facebook? (It isn't "new" and "cool" if it isn't on facebook, is it?)

Re:Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440301)

Doesn't work if whoever posted it stole the idea from someone else; they might not have been allowed to share the idea with you.

Re:Bad idea (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440029)

This is one theory behind the retconning of FiM to remove the fan-influenced Derpy character. The other is that Apple considered the character potentially offensive and wouldn't permit the episode on iTunes unedited. As neither Apple nor Hasbro made any statement, either is a possibility.

Re:Bad idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440121)

Statements have been made. It was Hasbro. The politically correct parents complained to Hasbro, not Apple. The episode is still out of rotation on the Hub.

I know you dumbass geeks want to blame Apple for every ill under the sun, but give up already on this one.

Re:Bad idea (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442183)

Geez, what's the world coming too these days?

Political correctness has so infiltrated society that you can no longer make fun of a cripple or retard?

Sheesh...

Re:Bad idea (4, Interesting)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440167)

Several years ago I worked on a little movie called "The Alamo" with Billy Bob Thornton. After a few months we had an amazing cut, about three hours long- it was an epic, complex movie that didn't pull any punches about Texas history and gave complex renderings of all the historical characters.

They scheduled a test screening in Austin so they could get a read on what people in Texas would make of it, and one of Harry Knowles's little minions from Ain't it Cool managed to plant himself in the audience an provide Harry with all the material he needed in order to write a scathing hit piece that accused the filmmakers of historical fraud, besmearching the honor of all Texans and being stupid Hollywood types looking down our noses at racist cracker hillbillies. (I don't think he ever actually saw the long cut of the film, I suspect that he was simply angry that he wasn't invited and didn't receive the emoluments to which he'd become accustomed.)

Long story short, within a week of Harry's post, the plug was pulled on all efforts to finalize the film and post production was shut down for three months while the studio recut the movie, leaving it the bland, inoffensive and rather lame thing you can buy today on Amazon. Forums just make filmmaking more political, and politics generally ruins art.

Re:Bad idea (1)

fliptout (9217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443495)

I consider it a minor victory that The Alamo depicted Davy Crockett as captured and executed by the Mexicans, which is what historical records indicate happened.

I remember the days when Ain't It Cool news stuff showed up on /. regularly- don't miss it at all.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39443615)

accused the filmmakers of historical fraud, besmearching the honor of all Texans and being stupid Hollywood types looking down our noses at racist cracker hillbillies.

To be fair, isn't that what Hollywood regularly does? I mean, that's their JOB. If they produced something that Texans heartily approved of, that would mean that they were racist towards Mexicans (not that Mexican is a race, but everyone knows what I mean).

Re:Bad idea (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#39444509)

To be fair, isn't that what Hollywood regularly does?

It's a tricky issue, considering the director, John Lee Hancock (more recently of The Blind Side), is just as much of a Texan as Knowles. On the merits, I'd rather the world have racist movies than pandering, boring ones.

Re:Bad idea (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440593)

That is like writing software without ever talking to the people that use it. Stupid, but a lot of people do it and wonder why they are not successful.

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39441513)

To be fair to Harlan Ellison, he's been rather legitimately ripped off more than once. I can't say for sure if he's done frivolous lawsuits with regards to plagiarism, but he's had some rather legitimate gripes at times. He is incredibly litigious from everything I've seen.

Re:Bad idea (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443265)

The saddest chapter in that to me was when Ellison sued James Cameron for supposedly ripping him off in The Terminator (it was a laughably bogus suit, IMHO). Ellison got paid off, while the much better science fiction author who clearly inspired elements of The Terminator (Phillip Dick, and his legendary story "Second Variety") never saw a dime.

People they're critizing are right there!?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442997)

I would love for the Dickheads who ruined the end of "Deadwood" to know how I felt about it...

Big Bang Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439711)

I mentioned how I'd like to see a couple of guest stars in a post on their official discussion forum and they showed both of them on the show afterwards.

This could be a coincidence, but I think they actually pay attention to their fans and forum.

Re:Big Bang Theory (1)

Z1NG (953122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439885)

I hope not, considering the bizarre number of people that what Penny and Sheldon to be together. Penny with Sheldon makes even less sense than Penny with Leonard.

Re:Big Bang Theory (2)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440377)

That's just soooo wrong! The universe would *splode. (maybe that's how they'll end the show - Sheldon and Penny hook up ... the universe explodes ... and then they do a Dallas where we see an average Joe wake up and go "that was the weirdest, longest dream I ever had! It seemed to go on for years and years ...")

Then again, so is this:

But for the numerous adult fans of the show "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,"

Lost (5, Interesting)

mws1066 (1057218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439757)

When Lost was about to end, the various forums were abuzz with lots of ending ideas that all were about a hundred times better than the actual ending. Kinda wish they'd listened to fans in that case.

Re:Lost (2)

chinton (151403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441663)

When Lost was about to end, the various forums were abuzz with lots of ending ideas that were about a hundred times worse than the actual ending. Kinda glad they didn't listen to fans in that case.

Re:Lost (1)

ZooDog (714750) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442455)

Cracked [cracked.com] had a summary of 5 movies where the fan theories were better than the final cut.

No (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439779)

We already had facebook the movie. Why do we need facebook the TV show?

Re:No (3, Funny)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440139)

I might be interested in Facebook the Flamethrower.

Re:No (2)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440873)

Yeah, the kids love that one. I'd also like to see Facebook: The Doll, Facebook: The Sheets, and of course Facebook: The Toilet Paper.

it might be a good thing... (1)

oyenamit (2474702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439827)

Among other things, I hope network execs can better guage the pulse of the viewers and don't inexplicably cancel seriously popular shows like "Outnumbered" (though it did ultimately return for the next season).

The Answer is No (1)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439857)

Somehow I read this as "Facebook meets American Idol"...

......

Sorry, I just threw up a bit in my mouth.

"Are people with ideas worth listening to?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439877)

Possibly. I'm sure someone'll come up with a bullshit argument about ownership of ideas, but all fiction is just a rehash of ten thousand other storylines before it. This isn't a criticism beyond noting that human nature isn't very varied so there's not much of a range of plausible plots. If you write something which doesn't either accord with the fantasies of the majority or depict how bad something would be if it doesn't fit in with their viewpoint then people tend not to read it. Especially thanks to "social media" creating a huge Brave New Echo Chamber.

As a News Corp rep once said to me, "We write what people want to hear. That is how we sell papers."

Skimpy Gothy Geek Girls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39439879)

Hell yeah! Always worth watching.
I don't give a crap if they are demonstrating an am/fm radio,
The best part is when they bend over to pick up the cables.
The closeup of breasts and breadboard are wonderful too.
It's a great time for video geek shows.

Article contradicts summary (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439915)

According to the article, while a fanbase can help extend the lifetime of a show, they have no influence on plot or characters.

Re:Article contradicts summary (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440389)

You must not have read the same article. The fans created Derpy Hooves, who eventually showed up as a character with a speaking role, and who served as a minor plot point for the episode.

Similarly the fans created DJ-Pon3, Lyra, BonBon, and Octavia While they haven't graduated to speaking characters yet, Hasbro is making toys out of some of them, and their continued appearances on the show have little details that prove the animators are paying attention. So the fans are definitely influencing characters.

As for the plot, a recent time-travel episode had Twilight Sparkle give this dialogue to herself:

Past Twi: Wow, I look terrible. Is there some kind of epic pony war in the distant future?
Future Twi: Actually, I'm from next Tuesday morning.

That's a direct riff on one of the most popular fanfics, the Fallout: Equestria series. I wouldn't be surprised if that fic was the genesis of the entire episode's time-travel plot.

I'll grant you that the MLP fan base is an aberration, and there probably isn't any other show as hooked into its weird fan base as they are. But the point of the article is that the MLP model may be the future of television. The pony model might take over the entertainment world soon.

Re:Article contradicts summary (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440757)

But from the many authors it quotes the ponies are the only example, the othersare counterexamples, making ponies more of an isolated exception than a rule.

Re:Article contradicts summary (2)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440787)

Oh god. "The pony model". I have witness the birth of a phrase. Young and vulnerable, I fear for it's future. To be abused and twisted by board execs and marketing monsters. The horror... The horror....

Re:Article contradicts summary (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441725)

That's a direct riff on one of the most popular fanfics, the Fallout: Equestria series.

Is Twilight's exact lines used in the fic? Because if not it's probably coincidence. "Future post-apocalypse self travels back to fix things/warn pre-apocalypse self." is a well-worn trope. Also, the name Fallout: Equestria makes me think of something thoroughly "after the end", while the "end" predicted on the show was entirely the work of a single overreaction by a single character. "Epic X war" describes Fallout, partly. It also describes Mass Effect, The Forever War, parts The Lord of the Rings, and the real Second World War. It's a thin thing to hang a franchise on.

The root problem: The MLP fanbase is so huge and prolific that after a while it becomes almost impossible to do something without someone else having done something similar first.

Re:Article contradicts summary (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442917)

"Future post-apocalypse self travels back to fix things/warn pre-apocalypse self." is a well-worn trope.

Not in cartoons for little girls. The inclusion of that adult trope in the childrens' show was a direct result of the vocal adult fanbase.

The root problem: The MLP fanbase is so huge and prolific that after a while it becomes almost impossible to do something without someone else having done something similar first.

This will be an issue at some point. It affected the Harry Potter franchise, where the fans explored every pairing of characters, so that J.K.Rowling had to put her foot down and pair everyone off in the final book. But I trust the creators of MLP to get a few original seasons under their belt before they have a problem colliding with the fan fiction.

The question isn't whether having an interactive conversation with your fans can work to your benefit. It obviously can. The question is whether it's sustainable over the long term.

Re:Article contradicts summary (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443579)

"Future post-apocalypse self travels back to fix things/warn pre-apocalypse self." is a well-worn trope.

Not in cartoons for little girls. The inclusion of that adult trope in the childrens' show was a direct result of the vocal adult fanbase.

Benny Hill and Blazing Saddles references aren't for little girls either, yet they were present in episodes made before the show was ever aired. The show was made for families, and there's always been things that were there to entertain adults.

I'm not saying there's not fandom-specific references. Derpy is one in spades. Lyra and Bon Bon's repeated pairings (including wearing each other's clothes, er, saddlebags). The proposed toys with fan favorites (and for once, an MLP antagonist). The latest blind bags with Lyra Heartstrings and Trixie Lulamoon.

But not everything is a direct reference. Young adult tech-savvy authors and young adult tech-savvy audience means there's a lot of cultural overlap. If a writer is allowed to include grown-up humor, they will just to keep themselves from being bored. I can't imagine that the person who wrote The Princess Promenade or what-have-you-from-G3 got much glee out of it.

So, yes, I'm sure that some of the things we see are nods to the fandom, and the fandom's existence will prevent or at least stall the series falling back into "an entire episode of hide-and-seek among the playsets" 1/2 hour commercial territory. But I'm not willing to ascribe everything to the fans as opposed to just being Parental Bonuses [tvtropes.org] .

Read article. Wasn't disappointed. (2, Insightful)

Balinares (316703) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439919)

And yet another article that's basically all about My Little Pony.

Six years ago, ponies on Slashdot were a joke. We were all grizzled men with grizzled beards. We made systems run through sweat and tears, we coded heroic late night fixes, congregating here to share war stories of pride in ourselves and defiance of users.

Now we're grizzled men with grizzled beards and a Fluttershy desktop.

How the times have changed.

Re:Read article. Wasn't disappointed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440243)

Well that's what I instantly thought about when I read the summary. The fan-base input isn't really the issue with MLP though. I guess listening to your fans is a revolutionary thing in TV production, like the lethargic dinosaurs that they are. No, the issue with MLP is that a kids show is listen to their adult fans for input. And this amorphous blog gets a kick out of rule 34. And they have an active and imaginative group of artists. I'm all for progressive change and better feedback, but 4chan is influencing a kids show. I'm a little freaked out.

Posting anon, because no-one must know my secret. God I love those ponies.

Re:Read article. Wasn't disappointed. (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441047)

When I read the summary on the /. front page my first thought was "Huh, I wonder if they are going to make mention of MLP:FiM."

Then, BAM! First paragraph.

Anyway, I wouldn't get too freaked out about 4chans influence on a kids show. Yes, the animators threw a hoofbump to the bronies, but that's about it. Until we see Princess Molestia or Twilight screaming that she's going to love and tolerate the shit out of all you fucking ponies, I can't see a company like Hasbro or any director, writer, or producer who values their future job prospects actually allowing influence.

I saw it as more a concealed and polite wave from a parent to a kid who won't stop yelling "Mom! MOOOOOOM! MOM! MOM! MOM! OVER HERE! MOM! MOM! LOOK AT MEEEEEEEE! MOM! MOM! MOM! YOU'RE NOT WATCHING! MOM! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!"

Re:Read article. Wasn't disappointed. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440451)

And yet another article that's basically all about My Little Pony.

Six years ago, ponies on Slashdot were a joke. We were all grizzled men with grizzled beards. We made systems run through sweat and tears, we coded heroic late night fixes, congregating here to share war stories of pride in ourselves and defiance of users.

Now we're grizzled men with grizzled beards and a Fluttershy desktop.

How the times have changed.

Are you suggesting you just don't know what went wrong? [youtube.com] :)

To get serious for a second, here's what all the fuss was about: Derpy's voice, original and revised [youtube.com] . Voice actors often work from storyboards while recording the audio. (The animators need the voices first so they sync the characters' lip movements), and in this case, the voice actor thought the character was male, not female. Female voice actor, voicing male character? Eeyup, she's gonna sound low and derpy.

The whole thing started a year ago when an animation error inadvertently gave an anonymous background character a set of crossed eyes. Fans saw the glitch and named her Derpy. The second animation error (voice actor and/or scriptwriter being ambiguous about whether the character was male or female) resulted in a deep low voice, which a few viewers mistook (a third error!) for mocking mental disability.

(Obligatory Godwin: And then the fans flipped out like Hitler in the bunker [youtube.com] , and here we are!)

When you're dealing with the Cambrian explosion of Internet remix culture, sometimes you get mutants. Transcription errors are all part of the game. Here's to the weird ones.

Re:Read article. Wasn't disappointed. (1)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440899)

I have a Rarity desktop, you insensitive clod!

Re:Read article. Wasn't disappointed. (2)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441897)

Now we're grizzled men with grizzled beards and a Fluttershy desktop.

Hey now, I'm a grizzled man with a grizzled beard and a Letty Whiterock & Cirno desktop. I was into friendship-driven meme engines before it was cool.

Oh, yes, and hipster glasses. I've got those too.

Nothing could possibly go wrong (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439931)

I would love to see something like this happen, just too see the end result when 4chan gets wind of it.

Re:Nothing could possibly go wrong (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#39439999)

Have you seen Bar Karma? The dialog and pacing has been a little sketchy in some episodes, but I like the overall concept. The show is crafted (i.e. plot created) by the social media fanbase.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_Karma [wikipedia.org]

Re:Nothing could possibly go wrong (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440001)

Oh God... Sex in the City meets \b\... Shudder...

Re:Nothing could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440157)

Doubtful, not even they will touch anthropomorphic horses.

Re:Nothing could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440575)

Uhhhhhhhhh...
The article focuses on the fan-base's influences on the show My Little Ponies. The fanship largely got started on 4chan's /co/ site (also responsible for a large following of Wakfu, a french anime). One of the big hubs of the fandom is Equestria Daily, which was amazed they got 10,000 hits a year ago because the maker just thought there were a couple of fanatics on /co/. They're up to a couple million hits now.

Take a look at MLP:FiM on Know Your Meme.

Long story short, this entire story is about 4chan.

Re:Nothing could possibly go wrong (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442071)

One of the big hubs of the fandom is Equestria Daily, which was amazed they got 10,000 hits a year ago because the maker just thought there were a couple of fanatics on /co/. They're up to a couple million hits now.

I didn't realize "a couple" could stretch to cover "144". Looks like they're doing a couple million hits A WEEK.

EA and Bioware (1)

Decessus (835669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440047)

I think EA and Bioware are finding out what can happen when you start letting fans believe they have an influence on what happens in a story.

Re:EA and Bioware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440323)

You mean like getting an ending that isn't a mishmash of cliches, plot holes, pointlessly introduced last minute nonsense and a middle school concept of "deep and profound"?

The ending defenders are the shallowest, dumbest thinkers on the whole issue, all the while trying to claim some sort farcical and fabricated artistic integrity high ground which doesn't even exist even in some of the most refined arts.

"So after a decent sci-fi trilogy, a magic boy (with the most batshit, evil insane "solution" to a make believe problem *ever*) out of nowhere waves a magic wand and magically combines electronic and organic life! Awesome. No suspension of beliefs issues there! Derp! Derp! Derp!"

Re:EA and Bioware (2)

Decessus (835669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440811)

I'm not defending the ending. I only brought it up as an example of what can happen when fans are led to believe that they have an influence on what happens in a story. Leigh Alexander wrote this over at Gamasutra and I believe it:

"One of my friends thought the name of the fan petition, "Retake Mass Effect," (a subversion of the game's own "Retake the Earth" marketing tagline) was particularly interesting -- "as if it ever belonged to them," he reflected. But if games really are the owned vision of a team of creators, then BioWare's first mistake was committing so fully to the fiction that it did.

If you promise your players agency and involvement, they are going to take it seriously. If you use every trick in your repertoire to immerse and engage, to create a sense of ownership, it seems you will need to consider the implications of those promises beyond how much downloadable content you can sell. "

Source [gamasutra.com]

Re:EA and Bioware (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442619)

I'm quite enjoying the Mass Effect fiasco. You see, I've been called a "Mass Effect fanboy" repeatedly even though I don't like the games at all. (Played the first one a bit, hated the gameplay, mostly ignored the series after that.)

When the firestorm kicked up I watched the endings on Youtube. And then I watched them again from a different poster because I though the first poster was trolling me. So I dug a bit deeper and watched the run-up to the limp-to-the-choice finale and I was shocked at how painful it was. I have no investment in the 'verse but I had to call out writing that horrible. And I got called a fanboy for it. Huh.

Honestly, though, both sides have fanboys. And both sides have people who are right. I mean, if you were in it for the big boom and the exciting run from the explosion, it provided that, and someone who's happy with that is happy with that. Good for them. But I can understand at least some of the rage and the feeling of being short-changed.

Re:EA and Bioware (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441991)

I think EA and Bioware are finding out what can happen when you start letting fans believe they have an influence on what happens in a story.

Remove the EA from that. I doubt they'd realize the difference between a fanbase and a bottom line unless they got the fanbase so riled up they torched EA HQ. (Gods, I remember when they were Electronic Arts.)

The end was just like the end in a lot of games: A slapdash finale stuck together as the deadline loomed because they needed something. Bioware's fault for not writing the ending until a few months before release, I guess.

Babylon 5 (2)

desertfool (21262) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440235)

Didn't the creator of Babylon 5 lurk on usenet to check up on what those of us who watched the show thought of it? /yes, my lawn, get off of it.

Re:Babylon 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39440405)

Didn't the creator of Babylon 5 lurk on usenet to check up on what those of us who watched the show thought of it? /yes, my lawn, get off of it.

Yes. He hung out on the moderated forum where there were strict rules about not posting story ideas, for the legal reasons discussed above. He said he didn't read the unmoderated forum.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441949)

And he didn't just lurk, he participated in discussions. But he also had his 5-year plan from the start and I don't believe he was relying on feedback to guide the series, he was just connecting with the fans.

Re:Babylon 5 (2)

happy_place (632005) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443177)

I used to read all JMS's (J. Michael Stracynzki) posts. He took fan feedback, he did conventions, he was very responsive to the people there. To my knowledge, he didn't take story suggestions, and in fact i seem to recall him specifically asking fans NOT to post suggestions in case they would later come against him with fraudulent claims that he stole from them, but I also remember he would talk about fan feedback was crucial in him judging exactly how well his story arcs were catching on. He would state that sometimes the fans would miss things he thought were obvious and other times when fans complained that his arcs were to obvious he'd adjust. I found reading his feedback and comments very enlightening as to how the whole creative process worked for him. JMS was an incredible writer, though, in that he wrote more or less 5 seasons (with very few guest writers) of the show all by himself.

Re:Babylon 5 (0)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440515)

Didn't the creator of Babylon 5 lurk on usenet to check up on what those of us who watched the show

The system is broken when absolute crap like Babylon 5 runs for years, but Firefly gets the axe after 14 episodes.

Re:Babylon 5 (2)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441327)

But B5 was actually good. It may have been poorly marketed, especially as it was in direct conflict with Star Trek. What impressed me the most about the show, was that the story arc was the full length of the series, with a beginning, middle and end. It didn't just go on until it ran out of steam.

I think you'll find that many people's opinion of B5 will include things like "believable, 3 dimensional characters", "engaging stories", "moral questions" and so on. It also had kick ass people on both sides (and in the grey areas) of the conflict.

While I agree with you that we could have gotten more Firefly, I don't think we should consider sacrificing the B5's of the programming schedule, and focus more on the Jersey Shores.

Bad idea (3, Insightful)

wired_parrot (768394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440473)

Letting fans take control of tv shows is a bad idea, and will make tv scripts be written like so much bad fan fiction. The key issue for me is that the crowdsourcing of fans tends to favour the familiar and desirable. This discourages creativity, as you can't introduce new characters and situations without removing the familiar first, and fans will always agitate to maintain the familiar. What you get in the end is a melow saccharinne version of the show, with no unexpected twists that might shake the diehard fan's loyalty, but that ends up alienating those very same fans

"Writers" is a bad concept anway. (0)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 2 years ago | (#39440559)

I understand editors, but once you have multiple writers the idea of violating the individual creativity of a writer is moot since they already start by making creativite compromises and brainstorming and what not. I'm pretty enamoured with the idea of single author works. Other people can contribute advice and corrections but should never be on a level field with the writer to the point when they just become cowriters.

Of course cowriten works have a right to exist, but in that case who cares if the fans are writing it or not? It's not like they are interfering with someone's artistic process.

Homogenization. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441261)

There are situations where viewer input could be fun, within very specific niches and informed audiences. Unfortunately, I think what we'll end up seeing is exemplified quite well with The Office. It's dragged on far too long; the storyline meandering, the writers grasping at straws and it long having since missed the original point of the series. The love interests have become far too dominant and the sharp edges have all been filed down making the whole thing a bit too easy-going. Whatever content made the series relatable to actual office workers has long since disappeared. Although that last point I tend to attribute more to writers too intrenched in Hollywood, not really having a grasp on how the rest of the world actually works.

Ironically, the consuming masses will almost certainly produce a more homogenized product than the most focus group obsessed producer in Hollywood could ever dream up. A big part of the problem is that the masses have been educated by Hollywood for a long time. So their decisions will inevitably lead them to the same place a Hollywood writer would go.

You can't please everyone (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442603)

I think the problem with having fans write the shows is best summed up by a comment from a City Of Heroes developer on pleasing the players: "If the game spit out 20 dollar bills people would complain that they weren't sequentially numbered. If they were sequentially numbered people would complain that they weren't random enough."

Twitter Feed/Fan Comments (1)

Chibi (232518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443107)

My wife watches Korean dramas on the internet. One of the sites had some type of feature where they embedded fan comments, possibly from Twitter, into a subtitle-like track. I only caught a glimpse, but this seemed like one of the worst ideas ever. It really caught my attention because suddenly, the word "BITCH" was scrolling across the screen.

While I could see some benefit to "sharing" like this with other viewers, the content would need so much moderation to filter out all of the garbage, trolls, and "me too"-like comments to make it worthwhile, but maybe this is a generational thing.

Re:Twitter Feed/Fan Comments (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443445)

Chibi, I feel for you. My wife is a dramacrazy freak. Though I have to say if you get the chance sit down and watch City Hunter. It's not bad.

Really? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443439)

How many people does it take to produce American Idol? I mean this is about the only crap that's programmed these days, reality tv. Here's a thought, how about getting decent writers and not churning out something cookie cutter that is crap, or something that isn't rehashed from 20 years ago. Sanford and Son 2012.

Old hat, Manga has been doing it openly (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443501)

Manga unlike mainstream Comics in the US are published in chapters in magazines together with other manga's. It is a method shared with strips from the European mainland with a few differences. First of all, manga magazines are much thicker, they have a LOT of content and this makes it easier for new talent to get a chance BUT the manga industry is far more commercial in Japan with far more magazines then even at the high-time of strips in France.

So, you get a few weeks and then the magazine tests the popularity and you either go, or stay. That is why even such old hats in the industry as Rumiko Takahashi include a few nude bits in the first chapters for their manga's aimed at boys, just to help the initial poll score better. Her works are hardly pornographic or even erotic in nature but for the ones published in young men/boys magazines, the lead has a nude scene. Compare it to the lesbian kiss durings sweeps week.

Other polls are done to ask readers for their favorite character and it is not unusual for the story to change to give more prominance to a winner.

Does it work? Some high quality manga is published this way and some some very low key fan dribble where every thing is designed to be instantly appealing.

Forget light nudity, think of characters with every popular design bolted on resulting in parodies that are supposed to be taken serious.

Imagine all your content designed by book cover designers. It is one thing to have a teaser to pull the audience in and get them to give you a chance to tell them your story, and another thing when everything is constantly designed to pull you in and nothing else.

Wait a minute, why am I trying to explain this when there is a movie director out there who does this all the time? That ........ who made Transformer. That is what you get if you cater solely to fans and to nobody else.

It wouldn't even that bad, if he catered to just one type of fan. Pity he tries to cater both to lovers of Megan Fox acting ability and big explosions, jarring both fans constantly by intruding either big bangs or big explosions.

Steve Wozniak would best sum up the topic with... (1)

Envy Life (993972) | more than 2 years ago | (#39445349)

Most inventors and engineers I've met are like me--they're shy and they live in their heads. They're almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone--best outside of corporate environments, best where they can control an invention's design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don't believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee. Because the committee would never agree on it! -- Steve Wozniak, "iWoz"

This is why we have "director's cuts" and "theatrical versions" of many films... a single person's vision vs a product toned down for the masses.

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